Leaders are often told that they need to delegate. But who should they delegate to? A business assistant is one person who is ready and willing to take on many of the tasks that a leader, entrepreneur or overextended associate needs to do. Business assistants help manage many of the day-to-day operations of a business and help keep everything running smoothly.
A Wide Range of Responsibilities
A business assistant’s responsibilities vary greatly, depending on the industry, employer or even department she works in. Typically, though, she is responsible for managing the flow of communication through the office, handling basic accounting tasks, managing the purchase and distribution of supplies, maintaining equipment, and coordinating the use of office space for meetings and other events. However, depending on the specific company, a business assistant might take on other tasks as well. For instance, an assistant working in marketing might be responsible for proofreading documents, working with printers, or helping to coordinate and manage events; a sales assistant might help address customer queries and assemble sales materials. Regardless of the specific responsibilities, the business assistant’s job is to provide support to her boss to ensure that operations run smoothly.
In most cases, business assistant jobs are entry level positions. Some companies are willing to hire applicants who have a high school diploma or the equivalent, but to move up the ladder from an assistant role, you typically need a college degree. Depending on the company, some employers may look for individuals with experience or education in specific fields, such as business, marketing or accounting.
Most business assistants receive on-the-job training for specific tasks, including learning the corporate terminology. However, employers look for assistants who have good communication and problem-solving skills, are well-organized, detail oriented and able to prioritize tasks. Good computer skills, including word processing, are a must. Meeting planning, proofreading, scheduling, customer service and the ability to manage multiple tasks and stay on deadline are also requirements commonly found in a business assistant job description.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for assistants is slower than average, at about 3 percent by 2024. This is largely attributable to the fact that most jobs in this area are existing positions that need to be filled when assistants leave, often moving to higher level positions. The median wage for these jobs is about $18 per hour, which works out to about $37,000 per year.
While most business assistants work in an office setting during typical business hours, a growing number of assistants are so-called virtual assistants, working from home and setting their own hours. Often, VAs work for entrepreneurs for an hourly rate, handling scheduling, paperwork, social media management and more. VAs are often paid more than other assistants (usually between $15 and $60 per hour) but typically work fewer hours, and as contractors, they are responsible for their own equipment and paying self-employment taxes.
Succeeding as a Business Assistant
Because business assistant jobs are often entry-level positions, many assistants go on to higher-level jobs within a few years. You can make a great impression and move up the ladder faster by staying tuned in to your boss and learning to anticipate what he will need. Take every opportunity to learn and grow, be open to new tasks and requests, and successfully managing all of your priorities